Multiclassing 2.0 – Hypothesis Detailed

Multiclassing 2.0 – Hypothesis Detailed

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First off, there were many good, thought-provoking comments on the previous installment of this series. Thanks again to all of you who contribute! Rather than address remarks in the comments section where other readers may or may not see them easily, I have chosen instead to address (most of) them in this installment. 

So here’s how I think this new multiclassing thing will play out and we’ll start with the Rogue by way of example.

Feat Investment

A single feat investment is a balanced, fair way to deal with multiclassing in 4E given the plethora of feats a character picks up over his or her lifestyle. All current multiclass feats need to fit into the new schema and could be used in the new system but I’d still like to see a new string of feats for the occasion. The proposed Rogue feat is as follows:

Student of the Shiv

You count as a Rogue for all feat, theme and paragon path requirements. In addition, you gain the Sneak Attack class feature and may use it with Rogue class and paragon path powers.

If you choose to apply sneak attack damage to a power, you may not simultaneously apply any other striker damage feature (Flurry of Blows, Arcane Might, Oath of Enmity, etc.) to that power.

With this feat, the character gives up skill training to gain what amounts to being roughly the Hybrid version of the class’ iconic feature, a formula that will continue throughout the proposed system. This design choice is made primarily for two reasons. First, Skill Training feats are flat-out inferior to multiclassing feats. There is no reason a monoclassed character should take a pure Skill Training feat when all multiclass feats offer some skill training. Removing the skill training makes the pure feats relevant again. Second, multiclassing is not often a purely roleplaying decision; some mechanical advantage is always desired so why not cater to that advantage? Admittedly some characters might want to multiclass Rogue for the Rogue Tactics feature so perhaps there could be a feat for that as well. It is my experience, however, that players multiclass Rogue for the damage so let’s just embrace it.. within reason of course. It’s also worth noting that the old Sneak of Shadows feat DOES allow a character to apply two striker damage features at once (see Sorcerer/Rogue for example) so while the new feat appears to out-of-balance at first, remember that Rogue powers are intended to be used with Sneak Attack whereas Monk powers are not. You’ll break the game a lot faster mixing class features and powers together than you will allowing more access of each set in isolation.

Theme at Level 1

Amateur Rogue

Prerequisite: Rogue

Theme Feature: N/A (Dark Sun: Sly Flourish (encounter usage))
Lv 1. Theme Power: Sly Flourish (encounter usage, non Dark-Sun only)

This is where things change a little from the Themes we’ve seen in Dark Sun. First, it has a prerequisite of Rogue. This improves back-compatibility by allowing current multiclass feats to feed into it rather than just saying “Prerequisite: Student of the Shiv” As we’ll see in a moment, pure Rogues aren’t going to want to take this Theme anyway, so no worries there. Second, there’s no feature encounter power. Concerns were raised that the extra encounter attack introduces power creep so instead of giving the Theme an automatic power, we slide it into the previously unused Lv 1 power swap slot. This means that the character will have to switch out their class encounter power to be able to use the Sneak Attack feature (s)he just gained but easy and prevalent power swap is what we’re going for, right? We kill two birds with one stone. If the Theme is being used in Dark Sun, give it for free as a Theme feature power instead. That power, as you noticed, should be the class’ iconic at-will. Arguments could be made for Gloaming Cut or Clever Strike as well.

“‘Amateur Rogue?’ Really, Ryven? You couldn’t come up with anything better?” As it turns out, no. I feel this name accurately explains the Theme. If you want to go Cat Burglar or Cutpurse, fine. It is my opinion that a multiclass Theme should be clearly delineated as such and if the name suffers, so be it. D&D players are creative enough to work around that deficiency. :)

Theme at Levels 2+

  • Lv 2: Tumble
  • Lv 3: Low Slash
  • Lv 5: Walking Wounded
  • Lv 6: Perfect Feint
  • Lv 7: Sand in the Eyes
  • Lv 9: Profit From Weakness
  • Lv 10: Combat Tumbleset

I won’t lie; I went over to the 4E CharOp boards on the WotC site and picked a power at each level that was good but not the best because that’s what these powers should be. Good theme powers for a mutliclass will be sufficiently useful so as to not be a ‘wasted’ power (I use that term loosely). At the same time, the best powers from the second class need to be retained by that class for the purposes of not stepping on toes. Of course, if you want to blow the feat power swap on it, go nuts. The nice thing about a Theme is that powers are limited and exactly described so that the overall effectiveness of the multiclass can be adjusted easily.

That’s it – that’s my proposal for multiclassing 2.0. I’ll end this post by proposing Wizard, Cleric and Fighter Themes as well but before I do I’d like to address one last comment from the previous installment. A reader named Camelot remarked, “The theme/multiclass concept is a good idea, but having it replace other themes bothers me.” You know what, dude (or dudette)? I agree. I would be happier taking any of the martial-art based Themes we’ve posted recently (and there are more coming, I assure you) than Theme-multiclassing Monk. It would make my character feel like the specific martial artist I’d like to make because the powers can be highly specific to style and taste, much like a Paragon Path. That being said, I also believe this method is a much better setup for multiclass than the current methods so if the technology is available, why not use it?

Hedge Wizard

You count as a Wizard for all feat, theme and paragon path requirements. In addition, you gain the Cantrips class feature and the ability to use Wizard implements.

Amateur Wizard

Prerequisite: Wizard

Theme Feature: N/A (Dark Sun: Arc Lightning (encounter usage))
Lv 1. Theme Power: Arc Lightning (encounter usage, non Dark-Sun only) [Magic Missile seemed lame and let's not contribute to frostcheese, ok?]

  • Lv 2: Shield
  • Lv 3:Color Spray
  • Lv 5: Web
  • Lv 6: Levitate
  • Lv 7: Lightning Bolt
  • Lv 9: Wall of Fire
  • Lv 10: Arcane Gate

Iconic power names held more weight with this Theme. I mean, really, a Wizard with no Color Spray or Web? C’mon now, that’s just silly. I would also have accepted anything Mordenkainen on the powers list or switching out Cantrips for Ritual Casting.


You count as a Cleric for all feat, theme and paragon path requirements. You may use a holy symbol as an implement. In addition, you gain the Healing Word class feature useable once per encounter.

Amateur Cleric

Prerequisite: Cleric

Theme Feature: You gain the Healer’s Lore class feature.

  • Lv 2: Cure Light Wounds
  • Lv 3: Command
  • Lv 5: Spiritual Weapon
  • Lv 6: Cure Serious Wounds
  • Lv 7: Zealous Sanction
  • Lv 9: Blade Barrier
  • Lv 10: Mass Cure Light Wounds

I maintain that players multiclassing into Cleric do so for the healing so a heal-based class feature instead of an attack power is sensible. This simultaneously solves a problem for Hybrid Clerics. Also like with the Wizard, this list is chock full of iconic spells and heavily favors the ranged spellcaster Cleric over the melee fightin’ Cleric.

Student of Heroics

You count as a Fighter for all feat, theme and paragon path requirements. You gain the Combat Challenge class feature, though you may only mark when you use Fighter class or paragon path powers. If an enemy violates your mark and you have another punishment feature (Divine Challenge, Aegis, etc), you must choose which feature to use.

Amateur Fighter

Prerequisite: Fighter

Theme Feature: N/A (Dark Sun: Threatening Rush (encounter usage))
Lv 1. Theme Power: Threatening Rush (encounter usage, non Dark-Sun only)

    • Lv 2: Shielding Shove
    • Lv 3: Daunting Onslaught
    • Lv 5: Rain of Steel
    • Lv 6: Kirre’s Roar
    • Lv 7: Come And Get It
    • Lv 9: Thicket of Blades
    • Lv 10: Defensive Resurgence

The loss of being able to mark on a melee basic is a HUGE hit for the Fighter as any Hybrid Fighter will tell you. The class really runs on Combat Challenge, though, so there must be a limitation. Also, a double-Defender could be utterly broketastic so like striker damage, only one mark punishment feature is allowable per trigger. I have nightmares of some armored PC monstrosity dishing out both a melee basic attack and radiant damage for violating a mark. Fighter powers are chosen with respect to marking ability first.

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About the Author

Ryven Cedrylle was introduced to 2nd edition D&D by his father at age 8 and has been hooked ever since. When not out somewhere with his nerd-loving wife, he spends an inordinate amount of time staring at small objects - primarily beakers, stars, books about religion and virtual gaming miniatures. Follow him on Twitter for previews of upcoming material and random nuggets of wit! There's also a guy Ryven knows who's trying to adopt a baby. Take a look at the site, see if you can help him out.